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03 October 2009


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Clifford Kiracofe

"I think you are conferring too much prominence on CFR. Its hay days were 1940 and 1950s."


I take it you are not familiar with the US political landscape and the foreign policy process.


It is his duty as a human being to speak his mind when he feels it is called for and suffer the consequences as did MacArthur.
We demand 18 year olds sacrifice their lives to these causes, the least a general can do is sacrifice his career (I doubt his pension is at risk)

robt willmann

Although I am not familiar with governmental policies about public statements made by a secretary of state, a general, or others, the question raised by Clifford Kiracofe about whether Gen. McChrystal's public statements about a policy were authorized is critically important.

Given as how people in bureaucracies like their turf and like to exercise administrative authority, I would assume that such protocols exist that certain types of statements have to be approved by someone else.

As has been noted, the photograph with the original post above showing McChrystal (I assume) on Air Force One wearing his work boots and camo clothing is indeed shocking.

Moreover, as some have commented above, McChrystal's body language is assertive: leaning slightly forward and staring intently at President Obama, in close proximity to him. Obama is looking down as he talks.

During the presidential campaign last year, Obama had a tendency of letting any criticism of him in the media make him respond to it, usually with some type of apology or explanation. I was concerned about that, as he was making it easy for others to get him to backtrack or take time to respond.

I think that Obama had this meeting with McChrystal in response to the ridiculous media criticism that he had talked to the general only once (I think McChrystal said on TV on "60 Minutes").

And back to Mr. Kiracofe's point: who cleared McChrystal to appear on the 60 Minutes program in the first place; a program which is edited so a certain slant and point of view is easy to create?

Mad Mike

The civilian "Bloggers" are noticing also.

Who Are ‘The Deciders’?

By David Sirota


Dan M

MChrystal seems a fool to me and Obama will not be cornered on this. Crucial to McChrystal's strategy is an Afghan government that stops preying on its people and can extend its influence in places like Nuristan (the post up above). What are the odds of such a government "emerging" in the next decade. Zero. So why is he marching down this road?



President Obama need to also fire OSD Gates for his intentionally undermining Presidential authority!

The smartest thing the incoming President could have done upon taking office was to 'clean out' any Bush-Cheney 'holdovers' like Gates.

President Obama IMO in addition to firing Gates also needs to have Gates placed under arrest and criminal charges filed against him for his suborning U.S. National Security.


@ fasteddiez and J,

I like your styles!! I've said from early on, Pres Obama needed to hold a massive housecleaning of the 3 & 4-star ranks. They are ALL POLITICAL - all of them chosen & vetted by the last Administration and then confirmed in their rank by prior Senates. Few, if any, are worth the baggage they bring to the respective wars their troops are fighting. Simple deep promotion of some promising, combat-experienced Colonels (who were Lt Cols and Majors back in 2001) would send the appropriate signal to the remainder-- namely, its time to take your extremely generous retirements and join the amen chorus with your friends in the military industry. (Which also begs the question, how many of today's generals & admirals remain beholden to their retired rabbis now representing the likes of MPRI, GD, LM, Boeing, Xe, et al??? Well past time for the long post-uniform "cooling off" period I think.)

If/When General Stanley gets fired, the C in C should consider those in Gen Stanley's chain of command (namely General Dave, Secdef Bob and the "chief military advisor" Admiral Mike). Clearly, these officers have either supported Gen Stanley in his public crusade to force the President's decision, OR, they failed to curtail Gen Stanley's borderline insubordination as it was their duty to do so. Trust me when I say, none of these gentlemen have had any problem in their pasts in canning subordinates who "get out of line." They are as accountable.

As to the hissy-fit sh*tstorm that would follow from the pearl-clutchers like the Kagans? Simply offer to enlist any and all of them into the fight in places like Nuristan.

Does the C in C have the intestinal fortitude to make a clear decision and lead? Many are watching. Many more are hoping. And many more are losing faith in CHANGE.


Clifford Kiracofe

robt willman, all,

As we speak this story was filed late this afternoon by the Washington Post:

"National Security Adviser Chides McChrystal
By Scott Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 4, 2009; 4:03 PM

"President Obama's National Security Adviser James L. Jones suggested Sunday that the public campaign being conducted by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan on behalf of his war strategy is complicating the internal White House review now underway, saying that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command." ...

When I was in federal service, on the civilian side, when dealing with highly sensitive policy issues and associated information you were extremely careful to follow proper procedures, rules, and federal law.

One would be looking for guidance from one's superior(s) and one would take into account the interests of his/her "principal" up the line. Rules and procedures, for example, would relate to public contact, press contact, reporting contacts, authorization for public or press contact, authorization for travel, particularly foreign travel, and the like.

Every embassy in Washington and every foreign ministry on this planet are concerned about US foreign policy as well as the foreign policies of other major powers such as the Russians, Chinese, and so on. As Col. Lang points out, justice is not always a consideration on the front burner...it's very hard ball out there and our national interests are at stake.

To get ourselves extricated honorably from the mess Bush placed our republic in unnecessarily is going to take some sophisticated effort on the part of the federal government....mainly diplomatic effort as nothing will be possible and effective without a regional approach and UN involvement. This then falls into the realm of the Department of State, NOT the Pentagon, to take the lead on with guidance from our President.

The Secretary of Defense needs to take this into consideration as he manages his department and the problems and issues posed by Petreaus and McCh. among others high flyers.

If I were advising Senator Kerry, I would suggest the senator call some VERY searching and dramatic hearings for the Foreign Relations Committee per Afghanistan and South Asia. If necessary, witnesses can be put under oath.

Really serious hearings could cool down some of the Republican hotheads and put McCh. and his imperial pimp friends in their in their places. Such hearings could also help the President in his infinitely heavy burden of leading our country and defending it. He is our President and we live in a dangerous world so I for one do not want to see him fail in his duty.



I was surprised he called out the VP by name in the midst of a heated debate.


Of course McC is out of line and totally over the top in challenging Obama. He knows what he's doing and the drama seems quite purposeful. This is a deliberate and dangerous attempt to create an atmosphere of brinksmanship re greater mideast. Obama is forced to chose a path (better than continually kicking the can down the road?).

Will Obama side with McC and bow to neocon policy or will he remove McC (or McC resign) and go against the Petraeus, McC military axis. What does the larger military community think of McC - hero or insubordinate?

Whatever the policy choice, Petraeus will benefit as either course has its minefields. Petraeus reputation intact as a mythical military genius. McC is a pawn in this chessmatch. NYT writes of his presidential aspirations for 2012 (gee, ya think?).

Quite frankly, for better or worse, we will know the direction of US mideast policy and cease this terrible holding pattern we're in. Is this policy certitude worth the danger to our constitutional institutions? We're going to find out.


Seems like General Dave isn't too happy, either, about being left out of the conversation: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/world/05military.html?ref=world.

Elizabeth Bumiller gets the "exclusive" on how poor Petraeus doesn't get to dominate the NSC discussions or go biking with the President anymore.

Babak Makkinejad

Clifford Kiracofe:

I do not believe that CFR is as influential as it used to be.

Please supply evidence to the contrary.



With all due respect, McCrystal's and McArthur's situations are not comparable. McArthur defied an ORDER, McCrystal is trying to influence a FUTURE order.

That being said, the ease with which he injects himself in a policy debate he MADE public, by leaking his assessment to Woodward is worrisome to me, on at least two levels:

- In terms of civil-military relations, it may be construed as a direct challenge to civilian authority. And although I believe it is fine for him to voice his honest opinion in private, he should certainly not appear to be undermining civilian authority.

- In terms of counter-propaganda, his strategy (presumably to obtain some 40,000 additional troops) is very risky. By telegraphing his intention way ahead of any decision in that regard, he handed over an easy line of persuasion to the Taliban who can recruit more on the basis of "see, more Westerners are coming." He also provides them with added incentive to attack us.

How many of our kids will be dead as a result??

Patrick Lang


W/R I think that that Macarthur and McChrystal are in the same hurt box. They both sought or have sought to limit the freedom of decision of their commanding officer to only that which they favor(ed).

McChrystal is seeking to confine Obama to a position in which he must accept McChrystal's desires.

MacArthur, who was a great general, sought the same thing. pl


Using analogies of days gone by, GEN McChrystal would be seen as someone setting himself up to be the duke of the lands he holds. The possible problem is to whether he is self-sufficient in holding the power, especially if resources coming from the homeland start to dry-up.

For some reason, I really do not have any respect for either of the Kagan brothers or Kimberly Kagan. The reason is that the Kagans are, for a lack of better terms as, either cheerleaders or town criers. In my book, they lack "umph". They can be the errant preacher proclaiming the raising of a crusading army to punish the heathens, but they lack the ability to be Urban II to actually pull it altogether.

Even with the power of the AEI whom they represent, their message does not get projected very far. Unless, there is such a man like GEN. Keane (Ret) on the scene. Is Keane associated with McChrystal as he was with Patreus? Or is there another individual lending his knowledge, experience, and influence to change the policy in Afghanistan as Keane had done for Iraq?

What is really surprising to me is how AEI is associated with McChrystal and his staff. For some reason I had thought Center for a New American Security would have displaced the AEI, especially when someone like Nagl is associated with them. Nagl has floated some ideas over the years about Afghanistan and how the counterinsurgency could be refined to make it better on the ground.


I think it remains to be seen whether Gen. McChrystal's comments represent a one-time case of poor judgment or the beginning of a pattern of insubordination. If it becomes the latter, then I think he surely deserves to join the list of fired Generals. For now, though, I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.


Col. Lang:

We know the end game is near when they wheel out retired general Jack Keane. Keane was arguing on the News Hour for COIN and more troops in Afghanistan with Andrew Bacevich arguing for a better rationale, civilian controlled decision-making, fewer troops and counter terrorism.

Keane had been Cheney’s surrogate and was used by him effectively to support the Petreaus’ surge in Iraq much to the dismay of Gen. George Casey then the Iraq CG. Casey was relieved and ended up as the Army Chief of Staff with Petraeus becoming CentCom CINC.

I don’t think that Keane will have that much impact on how this administration decides what they want to do in Afghanistan especially after the statement made over the weekend by Gen Jones and today by SecDef Gates but it will be interesting to follow McChrystal’s career path for the next several years.

For me, Petraeus continues to be a kind of wild card. IMO he’s got the MacArthur bug if anyone does.

Mark Stuart

Is it total fantasy on my part to think that maybe the sight of Mc C dressed in his field uniform might have some serious psychological effect on someone who was abandoned by his father and for whom male authority figures have been totally lacking?



Col. Lang:

re ms' comment.

The short answer is "Yes." It is fantasy for 'ms' to think that.

At a practical level, Obama had a serious male authority figure in the form of his maternal grandfather.

At a more esoteric level it could be argued that Obama's academic and professional achievements in the study of law came about due his need to gain mastery over the rules that govern society. And, that in this context, 'law' became a personal, social model for governing his behavior that went way beyond what an ordinary father might teach him.

For both reasons, McChrystal, regardless of the uniform he wore, would offer Obama little if any threat.

Mark Stuart


From what i gather, President Obama was abandoned by his father at age 2. He remained in the US till he was 6 (the psychologically formative years). And then moved with his mother and step father to Indonesia.

I'm not sure how present his Grandfather was in his life. Nor how critical a role he may have played as a Father figure, as a male figure during these formative years, considering that his mother was already seeing his Stepfather-to-be.
But assuming he played a major role during those years, i am not convinced that just one male/Father figure is enough during a man's psychologically formative years to lead to emotional balance. Particularly if most of the presence surrounding him is feminine.
Also, anyone who has had the misfortune to be abandoned by his/her biological parents, would tell you that no matter how much love they might have received from their adoptive parents, or close relatives, it is never the same.

Furthermore, never did i imply in my comment that Mc C. demeanor or attire could be experienced as a "threat" by the President. But simply as an emotionally charged element to take into consideration when appraising their working relationship.

Also, could any academic and professional achievements in the study and mastery of law substitute a father in governing one's emotional behavior? It probably could as the President might arguably exemplify. But is the emotional and psychological downside of such a substitution negligible as you might suggest? I'm not really convinced. And i don't think this is esoteric either.


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